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Wrestling: For Petrettis, match was a family affair

Shawn Petretti straddled two worlds while sitting in the bleachers Thursday night. The Mattituck High School principal had more than a casual interest in the high school wrestling match between Shoreham-Wading River and Mattituck/Greenport/Southold. That’s because his sons, John Carl and Tristan, both wrestle for Shoreham.

It was an intriguing case of a principal watching his own flesh and blood wrestle against the team he himself once coached in the Mattituck building where he works. Talk about conflicted interests.

Depending on how one looked at it, it was a no-win or no-lose situation for the Petretti family.

“It is kind of neat,” Shawn Petretti said before the non-league match.

His sons were both winners. John Carl, a senior, pinned David Jenkins in 50 seconds in their bout at 160 pounds as Shoreham triumphed, 46-34. Tristan, an eighth-grader, won his junior varsity match at 99 pounds — “All 85 pounds of him,” said Shawn Petretti.

Speaking as a father, Shawn Petretti said: “In all the years, we’ve never wrestled Mattituck. We’ve always been Division I and they were Division II and we just never ran into each other.”

That changed late last week when it was learned the two teams would meet in a crossover match.

Although it was the first time John Carl had wrestled against Mattituck, he is hardly a stranger to the North Fork school. He said he was running all over the place as a youngster years ago when his father coached the Tuckers.

“It’s just kind of a cool feeling,” John Carl said. “It feels kind of like home here almost. I’m very familiar with the coaching staff, the gym, all the wrestlers on the team.”

The Petretti connection is just one example of the close ties between the two programs. John Carl has trained for years with Mattituck’s Bokina twins, Jack and Luke. Mattituck coach Cory Dolson has coached John Carl in the offseason, said Shawn Petretti. Mattituck assistant coach Nick Fioretti is a former Shoreham wrestler and assistant to Shoreham coach Joe Condon.

As if that wasn’t enough, another interested observer in the bleachers was Mike Jablonski, the Mattituck boys cross-country coach. He watched his son, eighth-grader Craig Jablonski, compete at 99 pounds (he was pinned by Sean Feeney in 1:11).

“We’re very tight with the kids from Mattituck,” Condon said. “We’ve been training with them for years. We know a lot of the kids and a lot of our kids have good relationships.”

John Carl (34-3), a two-time league champion with a 148-29 career record, was his businesslike self on the mat.

Condon said John Carl has been “spectacular” this season. “He’s one of our best,” the coach said. “He has a very hard work ethic. He always seeks good competition and he doesn’t get fazed. He’s very calm under pressure and he doesn’t overreact. He’s always in the moment. He’s very poised, which is very tough to do on a big stage against good competition. He’s got the ability to beat anybody. There’s no one he can’t beat.”

Dolson had words of high praise for John Carl as well, saying: “I think he’s the best kid in the state in his weight class. He should win the states, that’s the bottom line. He’s tall. He’s lean. He wrestles a very unorthodox style. It’s hard to prepare for, which is why he’s so dangerous.”

Connor Pearce (113 pounds), Dan Dacos (132), Dylan Blanco (195) and Alex Scott (220) also picked up pins for Shoreham. Chris Vedder (106), Wes Pase (126) and Peter Delise (152) won by decisions and Tommy Sciarrone (285) won by forfeit for the Wildcats.

Mattituck recognized eight of its wrestlers in a Senior Night ceremony. Among them were Luke Bokina (138) and Jack Bokina (145), who came away with wins. Jack Bokina made quick work of Juan Arrango, pinning him in four seconds. The other winners for Mattituck were Ethan Prager (120), Ethan Schmidt (170) and Colby Suglia (182).

Shawn Petretti, who had to attend a school board meeting before the match ended, seemed to enjoy the moment.

“I’ve always been thankful between having coached the Mattituck varsity team for a while and knowing these kids and really liking them to coaching the Shoreham youth team for all these years,” he said. “Now I know all these kids. They’re my two favorite wrestling programs on the island.”

So, what will it be like later tonight in the Petretti household?

John Carl said, “Some jokes will be thrown around.”

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Photo caption: Mattituck High School principal Shawn Petretti with his sons, Shoreham-Wading River senior John Carl, left, and Shoreham eighth-grader Tristan. (Credit: Bob Liepa)